Councillor says move and scale back Fun4kids

IT’S been voted Australia’s best children’s festival and is credited with injecting more than $2.5 million into the local economy in mid-winter, but Fun4Kids costs the city council almost $500,000.

Now one councillor, Peter Hulin, thinks it’s time for a radical change.

He has suggested expenditure be scaled back to ease the burden on council funds and moving it from the traditional Civic Green setting to Lake Pertobe.

This year’s 14th annual festival cost the council $470,232, which was $58,655 worse than expected in the budget. On the flip side, it is credited with generating $2.59m in new expenditure for the city and an estimated $7m flow-on benefits for the region.

Cr Hulin called on his council colleagues to have a “good hard look” at the festival next year.

“We need a better financial outcome,” he told this month’s council meeting.

“Maybe another venue and maybe scale it back.

“I’d rather see it at Lake Pertobe.

“The potential for that area is enormous.”

He said profit from the amended festival could be spent on improving the reserve to make it a world-class children’s area.

The festival’s financial report, presented to councillors in a closed briefing, said direct costs totalled $1.395m — $70,475 more than expected — while the $924,820 in direct income was $11,820 more than expected.

The briefing document indicated cost savings could be achieved by finding a cheaper energy supply, cheaper timber for the woodwork section, expanding the partnership base and retendering for a sound system contractor.

Net ticket sales rose by $70,000 to $506,379 and attendance figures rose slightly to 25,416. 

More than 100 businesses provided in-kind support valued at $672,500 and free publicity was valued at $615,040.

Surveys carried out during the festival indicated patrons considered the event offered quality and value-for-money entertainment.

Shipwreck Coast Marketing chief executive Carole Reid said the festival played a key role in generating revenue and publicity for Warrnambool and surrounding region.

“Like the Folkie is to Port Fairy, the Fun4Kids Festival puts Warrnambool on the map nationally as a family destination,” she said.

“It is in the national tourism hall of fame, having beaten every other significant event in the category three times.

“If there is to be a major revision that is for the council to decide, but the event is definitely important not just for Warrnambool but for the region in bringing added value.”

pcollins@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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